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FL Heat

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  1. First off, thank you all so much for visiting with us. It's been a pleasure and an honor to show y'all our food. TJ worked the grill tonight and I made mac n cheese (whole wheat). Mia played outside while he grilled, and she let us know when she was ready for her pig ear. I taught her "Show me", which means go to the cabinet the treats are in. . . (Yes, TJ did in fact grill in shorts, a t-shirt, and houseshoes.) I realized too late that there were no breadcrumbs in the house, so. . .I just browned the cheese on top a little more. And the joy of TJ's life, finely grilled steaks. That's a black angus sirloin & two filet mignons. I had part of a filet, he had a large portion of the sirloin. Don't worry, the leftovers will probably be gnawed upon by the manly man for breakfast. And as promised, tangerines from the neighbor's tree. I'm holding them so you can get perspective on how tiny they are. But packed FULL of flavor. Just SO tart and juicy and sweet and. . .mmmm. And the tree. Sorry about the finger in the upper corner, don't know whose that could be. . . Thank you all again! I hope weather clears up soon where it's crummy, and that it stays beautiful where it's already paradise. Here's a parting shot of us, taken a few months ago, but it's food-related! We were on our way to eat in Las Vegas! Diana (and TJ and Mia and the elusive & camera-shy kitty, too)
  2. A quick note on the herb garden. . .be sure one end is just a bit higher (we went an inch) than the other, and drill drainage holes in the bottom. We lined the whole thing with black plastic (to prevent any accidental leakage onto the house) on the inside, and he built it out of pressure-treated lumber so that it'd last a long time. Lining the bottom with styrofoam peanuts (for more drainage), then filling with the dirt stuff was the route we took. Looking back, I probably should have planted the dill in the middle, but I really had no idea it'd grow as fast as it has. The original plan was to have that fragrant rosemary bush underneath the window. . .the best laid plans. . . I did my weekly grocery shopping today, and I hope to grab a picture of the neighbor's tangerine trees and a tangerine or two a little later today. I'm waiting for it to be a little sunnier, since those tangerines are heavenly when the sun's been warming them. I'm drooling just thinking about it. Diana
  3. I haven't been out there much (except to shop!) Susan, but I'll see what I can find out. Maybe we'll have to hit the mall together. . . Capicolla! Yes! I think it might be purchased on the next trip to the Italian Market. . . Diana
  4. Dinner was soooooooooooo good. We got the antipasti platter (a small one), which we hadn't before, and really enjoyed it. There was a ham-type meat which the waitress said was "cappicoa" or something similar. Spicy spicy! It came with the salad dressing that is the whole reason we get their salads. It's balsamic vinegar, olive oil. . .and we taste garlic & black pepper. But no idea what else, except that it's incredibly addictive. We dip the bread in it, and if it weren't bad manners, would probably order it in a wine glass. TJ got a calzone. It's full of cheese & pepperoni, and comes with a bowl of sauce on the side. It's fun to say "EXCALIBUR!" when he pulls the knife out of the crust. I had the shrimp fradiavolo. Most times it's spicy. . .tonight it was BLAZING. In a good way. My lips were numb by the end of the meal. Half of it came home for lunch tomorrow. Now, as we were waiting for the check, some other folks came in. One woman in particular was wearing enough perfume that it was bothering US. Why would you bother going out to eat wearing that much, when everything you eat is going to taste like your perfume anyway? Blech. We stopped at our favorite ice cream shop afterwards. They serve a locally made brand of ice cream that is flavorful & full of chunks of all kinds of good stuff. Haven't had anything there that wasn't delicious. As mentioned above, here's a picture of the globe basil growing. . . And here's what part of a "globe" looks like. . . Tomorrow's the last day, so please come on over for steaks from the grill. TJ's eager to show off HIS skills Diana
  5. VERY different? Not particularly. I think on the tag it's called "Spicy Globe Basil", it's a little more peppery than regular basil (which is in a pot with tomato plants), but the "globe" is what appeals to me. It grows in clumps on stems, so when you pick it, you just snap off part of a globe and it's a perfect amount. I'll snap some later this evening and take a closer picture to show, since the explanation sounded a lot better in my head than it does typed out. . . We'll be going to my personal favorite restaurant in the "neighborhood" tonight. It's a family-run place called Dal'Italia, and is right across the street from a Melting Pot. Whenever we go and sit next to the windows, I feel sorry for the people at Melting Pot, since there's no way what they're eating is nearly as good as what we're eating. There's a big brick oven and a tiny Italian woman in the kitchen. Her daughters are the waitstaff, their children bus tables & do some of the table service. It's very casual & simple, nothing extraordinary at first glance, but the food is just outstanding. A friend of ours who has Italian family says it's very much like the food she grew up on. The second time we went, I asked if it was possible to buy just the pizza dough (because it's SO good). The waitress went to ask her mom, who unleashed a string of (presumably) expletives in Italian, and stated repeatedly (and loudly) "NO NO NO". Then she went back to singing in the kitchen. The waitress came back, her face a little red, and said that she couldn't sell the pizza dough, but we could buy all the plain pizzas we wanted Diana
  6. Yep, cube steak! The meat market was running a nice special on it this week. Mom & Dad (who live in Illinois right now, but spent most of their lives in Texas) can only find it at Whole Foods up near them. . .and you should hear Dad complain about the cost of organic, free-range cube steak. . . Oh, and Daddy-A. . .the pig ears are purchased in bulk from Costco. . .we live maybe too much in the city to get away with lugging a whole pig home. . .though. . .maybe, if we did it at night. . . Diana
  7. Evening! Dinner tonight was chicken fried steak and sauteed sugar snap peas with garlic. Then a raspberry-vanilla mini-cake from Mazzarro's. Absolutely fantastic. I like raspberries, but after that, I REALLY like raspberries. And for the snowbound, a picture of the herb garden that TJ built on the side of the house, right under a kitchen window. From left to right: oregano, chives, globe basil, rosemary, thyme, dill (the BIG one), and parsley Diana
  8. Sorry for the lateness of the first post of the day, had a wee bit of stomach trouble this morning. Took a trip to Mazzaro's Italian Market & Coffee Roasters early this afternoon. I forgot how crowded Florida can be this time of year, so pictures are unavailable. Too crowded and my basket was kinda heavy When you walk in, the registers are on your right, and the cheese & meat section on your left. A big freezer case full of cheese, then two large refrigerated bins with even MORE cheese. Behind the cheese case, they're usually bagging up balls of fresh mozzarella. Next to that is the meat/fish/poultry case, full of all kinds of prepared and fresh meats. You walk through a narrow area that contains another freezer case, this one full of their lasagna trays and other frozen entrees, plus a refrigerated case with European butters & milks, plus fresh salads & yogurts to pick up and eat on the run. Through the skinny area, past the vegetables & fruit, to the huge display of coffee beans. I always feel a little guilty that I don't drink coffee when I pass by there, because it just looks so. . . .delicious. The shop opens up again, and there's a deli on the left (full of just everything you could imagine an Italian deli having), and a fresh pasta counter (my lunch for today & tomorrow was a piece of spinach & sun-dried tomato lasagna from there). The middle section is large racks of olive oils, vinegars, imported packaged breads & sweets, and bottled goods. Next to the fresh pasta area are all the packaged pastas, shop-made sauces, bottled & canned sauces, canned tomatoes, and all sorts of fun condiments & stuff. There's a tremendous wine selection, focusing primarily on Italian wines and liquors (and liquers!). If anyone knows of a wonderful Italian wine that isn't over $20, I'll pick it up next time I'm there, but my grasp of Italian wine is infintesimal. There's a wonderful bakery with fresh breads & sweets (two of which I picked up for us to share the next two nights), shop-made gelatos and a coffee bar. On Saturdays, they've always got a wine vendor there giving samples and nearly always a band playing near the coffee bar. Really a treat. . .but waaaaay too crowded this time of year. Below is a picture of what I bought, if anyone has any great suggestions for what to try with any of the stuff, I'm game! In case you can't read the labels, the cheeses are Pepato (soft), Tillsit, and Maytag Blue (I know plenty to do with the blue, but I buy other cheeses just to see what they taste like). The vinegar is an apricot balsamic, I figure it'll be tasty in salad dressings. The two desserts are an Italian rum cake and a raspberry vanilla cake. Dinner tonight is chicken fried steak YAY! Diana
  9. Susan, from what I understand, pineapple plants make one pineapple, three years after being planted. Not for the impatient gardener, I suppose. Glad none of your stuff took the cold badly! Dinner tonight. . .roasted sweet potatoes, pecan-crusted chicken. Maybe "pecan-crusted" isn't the right name. It's an amalgamation of several recipes. To make the cooking time faster (the sweet potatoes were coming along faster than I expected), I sliced the chicken breasts into smaller strips. Dunked them each in honey, then into a food-processor-ground mixture of whole wheat flour, pecans, and kosher salt. Baked at 350 for about 15 minutes. Sliced up a tomato from the Sat AM Market, and I had a glass of Franz Reh 2002 Peisporter Michaelsburg Auslese Reisling. TJ had a big glass of water. Mia had Science Diet Lamb & Rice. And a pig ear. TJ's words of advice: "You know, it was a really good dinner, honey, but from this angle (looking at the picture), the chicken looks furry." Rest assured, the chicken is not furry. Diana
  10. Brrrrr.. ...I know I won't get sympathy from people who live where it's REALLY cold, but 40 first thing in the morning IS cold for this part of the US! Breakfast was yogurt & a tangelo; TJ had his cereal & english muffin (at least, that's how it sounded & smelled, I stayed under the covers!). Several months back, I put us on the South Beach program, with the recipes & knowledge I had, not necessarily with the recipes from the book. It worked phenomenally well for TJ, he lost about 40 pounds. I lost 12. Life's so unfair. At any rate, since then, I make a South-Beach-inspired lunch for him in the evening for him to take to work the next day. The lunches usually look like this: Plenty of fruits & vegetables, plus enough protein & fat to keep him feeling full. Mine is usually simpler. . today the rest of the apple walnut chicken salad on whole wheat and Triscuits with spicy hummus. And, since I think she feels left out of the whole blog thing, Mia the beagle made an appearance in the kitchen today, woefully watching me while I made lunch, so I promised that I'd put her picture in today, and she made me swear to take pictures of her dinner tonight, too. Hers will be. . .kibble. Ours will be pecan-crusted chicken and roasted sweet potatoes. Something nice & soul-warming for a cold day. Mia also mentioned I might want to take pictures of the squirrels & birds & their dining area in the backyard. . .and I will, just not today. How about a thriving pineapple plant instead? My brother was stationed in Hawaii and we went to visit him (with my mom & dad) two years back. We brought back pineapples (legally!), and planted the top of one of them to see if it really would grow. And it's done pretty well! Diana
  11. Technically, we have a freeze warning; in all likelihood, our backyard (where anything delicate is) won't freeze, it's protected from northern winds really well. So the tomatoes, pineapple plant, and papaya tree are safe & sound! The herb garden should be sturdy enough, it's got an eastern exposure and gets really warm in the afternoon. Plus we're only about 7 miles from the water, so it never really freezes. . . .frost, once in a while, and if we were further inland I'd worry, but the nice peninsula we're on moderates the temperatures really nicely. I took some photos of the food plants when it was sunny, I'll put them up tomorrow so we can all remember warmth and sunshine. Diana
  12. Happy Sunday! Breakfast didn't really exist this morning....lunch was simple. TJ had a leftover roast pork sandwich and some of the leftover fruit salad: I had an apple walnut chicken salad sandwich on wheat (I buy the wheat bread from the Publix bakery--reasonably priced, and so long as it's kept in the fridge, keeps for the whole week) and some leftover cole slaw. Dinner was at Beef O'Brady's, a Florida chain of sports-type-restaurants. The buffalo sauce is good, the one near us has plenty of TVs and isn't usually overcrowded, plus TJ says the beer is cold, which makes it plenty good enough for football watching & dinner. We started off with potato skins. I wondered what they did what the rest of the potato, since this place doesn't serve mashed potatoes. Maybe they're food-service potato skins? I dunno. One of the great mysteries of life. A little while later, I had a buffalo chicken salad. . .which is romaine with a sliced chicken breast that's made buffalo-style, croutons, parmesan, and either blue cheese, ranch, or oil & vinegar for dressing. And in his first attempt at food porn, TJ photographed his buffalo wings. (--cue angels singing in the background--) Don & Laura (from previous entries) joined us, but I think they're kinda over having their food photographed, so I let them slide tonight. Tomorrow's a normal day, and I hope everyone has a great Monday! Diana
  13. The Cuban place was called La Fonda, on S MacDill Ave, near a big pink building called the St Croix Office Complex or somesuch. Down near where Mike's Pies USED to be (they aren't there anymore, either!). . .and a fancy day spa, whose name escapes me at the moment. As to the new places. . .chances are good we won't be the ones to find them, we're a lil bit behind the power curve on that! But we're planning to go to Dal'Italia sometime this week. . .mom & pop place, I think I told you about it already Diana
  14. Whew. I'm beat. Not long after we got home this morning, we had to start the prep work. We have two rubs that we keep on hand, a "sweet" rub and a "Texas" rub. Both are based on recipes from Steven Raichlen's "Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades". We use the "Texas" rub (it's spicy!) on the brisket, and the sweet rub on the pork. Brisket (why, yes, those ARE my hands, and I AM doing the dirty work!) For the pork shoulder, we put on a paste of plain yellow mustard and the sweeter rub: TJ had to make his barbecue sauce. I've been sworn to secrecy regarding the recipe, but this is how it looks before it starts cooking: He got the meat into the smoker. . .the brisket we cut into two pieces to shorten the cooking time, and put them on the top racks, the pork shoulder is on the bottom. Is there anything more beautiful than a smoker at work? That was my mom & dad's smoker, but they downsized into an apartment, and for some reason, the management wasn't real thrilled with the idea of a slow-burning fire generating lots of smoke for hours on end. So we got it Back inside, I was working from my mom's oldest cookbook, making baked beans. I'd never done that before. They were pretty good, but I wanted to show just how well-loved this particular book is. This page isn't where the baked beans recipe came from, but it's just. . .touching to see the stains & wear of time. So to accompany the pork & brisket, I made cole slaw (from TJ's grandma's recipe, given to me by his mom), the baked beans, and he grilled corn that we bought at the Market this morning. That's 7-year-old Rachel wolfing down a brisket sandwich in the background. She'd never had it before, but by the end of the night, wandered up to the platter, grabbed a piece with her hands, ripped it in half, and wandered off gnawing on it The pork shoulder was chopped (look, we were hungry, and it finished late, no time for pulling). . .look at the beautiful smoke ring! The brisket was sliced. . . . And after a trio of cookies (gingerbread-type, chocolate chip, and snickerdoodles), this is what the clean up crew found on the previously full brisket platter: I'm from Texas, my brother & dad went to the University Of Texas (I went to Austin College, which isn't in Austin), and mom & dad send us shirts from UT whenever they visit, hence TJ's "TEXAS SOCCER" shirt in the brisket picture. He wore it special for the photographs Tomorrow's football day (American football, anyway), so chances are good some sort of sports bar food will be involved. Oh, and I ended up putting 1 quart of the strawberries into a salad with some tangeloes and red grapes. Rachel liked the grapes. Assorted other adults picked out the strawberries. So I'm still open for ideas about what to do with a whole 'nother quart of the things. Y'all have a good night, and dream of brisket! Diana
  15. It was empty this time, just has a neat pattern, but when the market is jumping (we were there about 9AM, when it opened, but after 11 it's a madhouse), they keep ready-to-go skewers of fruit, so after making a smoothie, he throws a skewer in. Diana
  16. I'm glad you all are enjoying it, we're having a lot of fun ourselves! :) Got up about 7:30 (I did, anyway, TJ was up earlier), tried really hard not to eat anything, because there are places that sell breakfasty and lunchy kind of foods at the Saturday Morning Market. It was a little overcast, but definitely not cold (ignore the people you see in the pictures who are bundled up. . .they obviously read the wrong weather report). Picked up a few things we need for the week, and then some things we need for today, and I tried to snap lots of pictures for those of you longing for some warmth & sun. Right after the Market, we had a golf lesson, and then hurried home to get the brisket & pork shoulder ready and into the smoker. Pictures of that will come later. In the meantime, I bought 2 quarts of fresh strawberries. I'm allergic to strawberries, so I don't really know what to do with them other than make shortcake. . . . .so any ideas submitted before 4pm EST would be appreciated! If I can serve them to the folks coming over, super. . .if not, I know TJ won't mind them being in his lunch this week. Plant City is named after. . .Mr Plant (I can't remember his first name), who built a neat hotel in Tampa that is now part of the University of Tampa. Anyway, they grow lots of strawberries there, and the annual Strawberry Festival is there. The Saturday Morning Market in St Pete runs from. . November to April, I believe. One block of downtown is closed off (downtown is right on the water, those are boat masts you see in the background): There's always funky entertainment of some sort or another. . .we've seen jazz bands, musicians playing renaissancey-type music, pianists, violinists. . . this week was a sorta-jazzy, sorta-honky-tonk group, nice soulful music: There are two stands that sell bread. One of them is usually crowded and kinda pricey. The other is two really friendly retirees who bring the bread in from their bakery in Tampa. We bought two loaves of potato bread for anyone who might want a brisket or pulled pork sandwich tonight. Of course there's a fishmonger (the selection is limited and changes week to week): And the best prices around on peelable sunshine: Pretty obvious what this stand sells. . .and nearby is a stand that sells fresh-cut flowers. Other vendors sell tropical plants like plumerias, orchids, and bromeliads. Oh, look! It's winter in Florida! This is the area we get a lot of the produce in, I like their quality, the labeling, and the prices. What did we have for breakfast? Funny you should ask. . . Even funnier, because the picture of the breakfast pizza has disappeared into the ether. Anyway, it's the size of those personal pan pizzas, but a relatively thin crust, plenty of garlic, with cheese, bacon, sausage, and tomatoes. The toppings vary from week to week. TJ & I split one of those, then we each had a smoothie. The guy lets you pick the fruit, then fires up the blender & makes it for you: That's real fruit in the picture, not fake stuff. He really picks it up off the table, chops, and blends. We had pineapple banana, because I'm allergic to strawberries. The place I like to buy corn, sweet potatoes, and green beans from also has this beautiful display: Mmmmm....turkey legs. TJ decided he was still hungry, so he got a beef sausage off their grill. He let me taste it, and then said I had to quote myself. So here goes. Me: "Is it good?" Him: "Here, taste it." Me: "Hot damn, that IS good sausage!" There you go, our Saturday Morning Market and fun shopping adventure! Be back later with an update on the smoker's progress. Diana
  17. Dinner tonight was at Dan Marino's Town Tavern. And, true to most places named after someone famous who isn't a chef, it was. . .okay. The wine flight was something to behold, though. $8.95 for 3 "samples", which were full glasses for me, so if I run on or don't make a lot of sense, blame it on: Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio Frei Brothers Pinot Noir Brancott Sauvignon Blanc (this one I'll buy, I really enjoyed it) I'm just starting to learn about wines, and you pick your own for the flight, so I went by the descriptions and picked things I thought I might like. As well, blame the above for any fuzziness in photography. Actually, it was dark & I was trying to be inconspicuous, since the tables were a little close together. Four of us went to dinner, each had something different. I took notes and pictures. . .those who've mentioned in other blogs you feel like a food critic, you're right! TJ had a burger. According to him, it was good, the beef was good, but it lacked kick. And when he asked for spicy mustard, alas, there was none to be had. And there was great mourning in the land of TJ. He always asks for his fries "crispy", and these he said didn't come out nearly as crispy as he likes. Don (the same Don from lunch) had the baked tortellini. Per him (and his girlfriend, who sampled), it was too dry and needed more sauce. The topping was nice, but soaked up all the juice. Laura (Don's girlfriend) had a tomato/mozzarella/basil salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The tomatoes were HUGE. . .but pink enough that it was kinda obvious they were winter tomatoes. The dressing was good, but not super special, and the basil leaves were awfully big. I guess if I were running a place, I might not feature a plate where the tomatoes were so important unless they were deliciously in season. I had one of the specials, "Tilapia Napoleon". Per the description, pan-roasted tilapia with sauteed portobello mushrooms, spinach, & asparagus; on a bed of rice pilaf with a citrus butter sauce. The citrus butter sauce was great. It gave most of the flavor to the dish; though to their credit, the fish wasn't dry or overcooked, it was very moist & tender. The portobello, while good, was a little bit burned, and there were only three pieces of asparagus! I was hoping for more. That's all for tonight. Tomorrow we're going to the Saturday Morning Market, then to a golf lesson, and then back home to get ready for the barbecue. See ya then! Diana
  18. Ground sirloin (I just like the way it tastes better), grilled to medium-well, on a kaiser roll that's been toasted on the grill; topped with a thick slice of cheddar and just enough ketchup to coat the cheese. Cheese & ketchup. That's it. Fresh cold lemonade on the side. Diana
  19. Don't you hate when you get all excited about going someplace and drive up and it's CLOSED? The little Cuban place we wanted for lunch was closed, so we went to Louis Pappa's instead. It's a smaller version (in South Tampa) of a bigger restaurant in Tarpon Springs, at the sponge docks. (According to one of the "Foods of the World" books, the reason so many Greek restaurants are in Tarpon Springs is because back when they started harvesting sponges, which was already being done in Greece, a lot of the skilled sponge-gatherers moved to this area to get work.) I had a chicken souvlaki thing on flatbread. . .though I'll admit to only eating one piece of the chicken and then eating the tomatoes, onion, and tzatziki that was on the bread. That's Greek potato salad on the plate with it, and TJ decided he should put his side salad into the picture as well. He had the same thing I did. Carlos had a gyro, but had inhaled it before I got to snap a picture. Don had a wrap of something, but I can't remember what. Dave had a Cuban sandwich (yeah, I know, but I think every place down here has Cuban sandwiches on the menu). . . The place was pretty empty when we got there, about 11:30, and when we left a little after noon, there was hardly a place left to sit. Then I made the drive up to Land and Sea Market. . .it's a bit of a haul (in my opinion, anyway, for some people it's a normal commute). The people there are really nice, and the prices are phenomenal for the quality of food available. Got a 9 1/2 lb brisket (fat cap on!), and resisted the urge to purchase lots of cheese, since I'm going to the Italian market next week and cheese is one of those things I like to get there. Have to spread the love around. . . . Sounds like we're going somewhere for happy hour(s) this evening, the current vote leans toward BayWalk. The other votes lean toward a bowling alley. I'm just along for the ride (and the liquor). . . . Diana
  20. That sounds good. . . .*makes a note* Hi Susan! Cookies (chocolate chip a la Alton Brown's chewy recipe) are done & on the cooling racks, about to head out to lunch. Yesterday I made some little gingerbread-like crispy bite-sized cookies, and I hope to have time to make snickerdoodles this afternoon. People, when they come over for barbecue, expect a certain level of cuisine. And I can't help but think that ever since I let a couple of the regulars taste the snickerdoodles, everyone will be disappointed if they aren't offered. Hopefully not everyone will get the same thing at lunch so I'll have more than one picture to post. But the roast pork, rice, and beans is just SO good. . . Diana
  21. Good morning, EGulleters! Food before introductions. . . TJ's breakfast: That's Kashi Good Friends CinnaRaisin crunch and Pepperidge Farm Whole Wheat English Muffins with peanut butter. My breakfast: That's. . .yeah, you can probably read the labels. Nice to meet you. I'm Diana, 31, living with TJ (the boyfriend) for just over 5 years now. A couple of years ago, we bought a house in St Petersburg, Florida, USA, which is in the Tampa Bay area. All the foodstuffs this week will come from the Bay area, and I hope you enjoy the trip. Goodness knows some of you could use a glimpse of sunshine & warmth right about now. Today's going to be a little busier than usual. . .we've been looking for an excuse to fire up the smoker, and thank goodness the blog opportunity came along. Tomorrow (Saturday) we'll be smoking a brisket and a pork shoulder, so I have to go to the meat market today to get the brisket. Before that, I need to turn a bowl of cookie dough into cookies, and meet TJ & friends for lunch at a great Cuban place over in Tampa. I feel like this requires full disclosure: I love shopping for foodstuffs almost as much as I enjoy cooking & eating it. So this week, I plan to take you all to the Saturday Morning Market here in St Pete (it's like a farmer's market & crafter's market all together); the Italian import shop; and Publix. I think the only place you'll miss this week is Costco, since that's not an every week shopping trip. Grab some flip flops and sunscreen and enjoy a trip to the (near) tropics in the middle of winter! Diana
  22. Be sure to ask your neighbors if they want any. . . .or collect them, set them out front with a sign that says, "Ripe Lemons, Please Take Some" (not too many at once though, or you'll get people who take 30 and sell them to someone else). Our next door neighbor has two tangerine trees, and told us not to even ask anymore, just to take some. The other neighbor has a lemon tree, and she sets them on our porch when she collects them and we aren't home :) Oh! And they hold up well in the mail, so send some to your snow-bound friends. And congratulations on your new home! Diana
  23. Smoked brisket; cole slaw (the boyfriend's mother's recipe); the boyfriend's homemade barbecue sauce; fresh salsa & tortilla chips (not fresh, I'm not that ambitious. . yet); roasted corn on the cob; all set out on a big table in the backyard. . . .and a huge plate of snickerdoodles for dessert. BYOB! D
  24. I made a baked version of empanadas tonight. . .basically ground beef, diced onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, diced black olives, raisins, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes (I'm sure there are more authentic versions, that's just what we like). To make the baked, not as bad-for-you-as-the-fried ones, I put the cooked filling in egg roll wrappers (poke holes for steam), brush some olive oil on the top, and bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until they're crispy. Otherwise there's an involved process with frying them, and I'm just not on that level yet :) Diana
  25. It seems much easier here (Tampa/St Pete) to find good Cuban and Puerto Rican food than good Asian food, probably because there's a significant Cuban/Puerto Rican population. I grew up in Texas, though, so even those foods seem kinda foreign & strange to me, and I'm still on the hunt for a really good Tex-Mex place here. My cooking is definitely influenced by my upbringing, and if I'm more inclined to cook/eat a Hispanic dish, I'm sure it's because I'm more familiar & comfortable with those ingredients & foods. Favorite dish? Cheese enchiladas, with extra onions. Diana
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